Friday, December 30, 2011

Reading around

I read a lot of blogs. Some are linked over to the right in my sidebar. Many are not. I read them for a wide variety of reasons-- they're interesting, or entertaining, or infuriating, or eye-opening, or or or. There are lots of reasons to read blogs.

I've mentioned one of them before. There's the blog with the mother who's a fabulous and gifted photographer, but she goes far over the top with what she does for her kids. She doesn't do anything simple; everything's beribboned to the point of (my) exhaustion.

I should say here that it's absolutely her right to do whatever the hell she wants for her children. If she wants to make homemade labels for the bottles of root beer at her daughter's birthday party, more power to her. They were adorable. But I'll be the one throwing cans of pop in a giant garbage can full of ice, thanks.

She's been blogging lately about how she is admittedly obsessed with making amazing holiday memories for her kids. She's done this in a variety of ways, most up at the level of the homemade root beer labels above. Some of the ideas are charming. Others I just don't get. It's her family, so she's choosing how she wants to create the holidays for them; it brings her joy, and that's fantastic.

Someday, though, I hope her kids don't feel like they're failing if they can't achieve that level of heavily-ornamented, highly engineered holiday shenananigans for their own families. (And I bet you a dollar that most of the moms in her 'hood want to bop her over the head with one of her crafty gifts.)

I have wonderful memories of holidays in my own family. Thinking about them, my memories primarily revolve around being with family and friends, and having a sparkly Christmas tree. That's pretty basic. Those are things I can do for Elle-- I've been doing them already, for both of her first two Christmases.

What does it boil down to? We all parent in our own way, and we parent in the way that is right for us. Elle doesn't need glitter on her driveway to know that Christmas is special, and that she is loved.

Whatever works for that mom, great. Whatever works for me, great. I just have to remember not to judge myself against someone else's standard.

And-- maybe even more importantly-- I have to remember not to judge her for the choices she makes, either.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


We're taking a break from swimming lessons in January-- somehow, the logistics of wet toddler-wrangling in the middle of a Midwestern winter seemed like too much. We'll resume in the spring.

But I really liked having that one night a week where we didn't do our usual routine. (home/dinner/bath/stories/bed.) I liked having a more structured activity with Elle.

So, since at this age children are stuck with activities that reflect their parents' interests, I've found a local place that does music classes for kids and parents. They have age-appropriate classes that sound fantastic, and even segue into actual instrument lessons when the kids are older. There's a toddler class that sounds so right up my alley I could just pop.

Now, I know perfectly well how to turn on music and dance around with my daughter. We do it frequently. But I like the idea of a more structured process, with the bonus of interacting with other kids her age.

It's tough to find after-work classes. The time window is so narrow for toddlers-- the class has to pretty much be at 5:30 or 6:00, and that's it. In the little suburb I live in, there are thousands of daytime opportunities for the SAHMs. Great for them, not for me. So I was thrilled to find this class and am really looking forward to it.

So Elle will now have had classes in swimming and music, decided upon by her former swimming and currently singing mom. If she gets into soccer, I'm in big trouble.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday cheer

People keep asking what I'm getting Elle for Christmas. Hello? She's 17 months old. I could give her a plastic-wrapped disposable spoon and she'd probably go mental with joy.

That said, I do have a few small things under there for her to unwrap, and I suspect my parents will show up with a U-Haul full of plastic toys that make noise. (They think it's funny. Having asked them multiple times to look for toys that require more than pushing a button, I don't find it quite as hilarious.) I did give them a list for her, trying to guide them a bit, so we'll see how that goes. Some books, mostly, and maybe a little chair that's sized for her. She spends a lot of time sitting on the bottom step, looking cool, so I think a chair would suit her well now.

(I feel like she's still a bit young for a kid-sized table and chairs set. That's for sometime in the coming year.)

Depending on how much they show up with, I am planning to tuck a few things away for long winter weekends when someone needs a little distraction!

My parents will be here for a week. There's a lot to do in that week, so I'm not as bothered by their presence in my small house as I might be otherwise. We're actually taking Elle to daycare one day that I'm off work and going out as adults-- as much as we all adore our resident toddler, it's possible to have a much more relaxing outing without her once in a while. We're having a friend to dinner one night, I'm taking Elle to the choir Christmas party one night-- for a while, anyway-- and we're even having Elle's sitter over for dessert on Christmas day.

It's a busy week. I guess I should get my house decorated!

I feel a little odd going to the choir Christmas party-- I've only made it to one rehearsal since the season started this fall, and haven't sung a single Sunday. I still see many people at church in general, and the choir director knows that for Elle's first couple of years I won't be around much, so I guess I shouldn't feel that weird.

When she's a little older, I'll just take her to rehearsal with me. A number of people do that; there's an anteroom where kids play while grownups practice. I hope there will be other kids around her age then-- at the moment, there's a whole mess of them in the 5-10 age range, but Elle's alone in the younger set. That may, and probably will, change.

I double-checked that a toddler would be welcome at the party, and got the response that it would be completely unacceptable if I didn't bring her. "After all, she's OUR choir baby," said the hostess indignantly.


Thursday night Elle stayed over at her sitter's so I could go to my work holiday party. I didn't get home from the city until 8:30, people! Crazy!

Of course, I came home and did laundry. Wild, that's me.

I could say that I didn't sleep well with Elle not there and try to impress you with what an awesome sentimental mom I am. Sorry-- I actually slept like the proverbial log, then made all kinds of noise the next morning when I could get up and shower without worrying about disturbing her. (The day where Elle's old enough to leave unattended while I shower will be a very good day.) Part of the joy of having a sitter I trust and a daughter who seems to be remarkably adaptable (except for the carseat) is that I really don't have to worry much unless I want to.

It was good to see her Friday night and listen to her babbling about her day, but if I know she's safe and loved, I'm apparently fine. If my parents lived closer, I know I'd be fine with her staying over periodically. I'd love to have her do that with them.


Online time is likely to be minimal at best in the next week or two, so if you celebrate Christmas, merry Christmas! If you celebrate Hanukkah, happy Hanukkah! If you celebrate Kwanzaa, happy Kwanzaa! And if you don't celebrate anything but just enjoy having a bit of time off work, enjoy your time off work.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

S times 2

I was just thinking the other night about two friends—they share the same first name, but they are very different. Yet they were both critical influences in my path to single parenthood.

The first S (we’ll call her S1) is a friend through work. She’s actually one of our vendors; she’s been in the business for years and I’ve worked with her for ages. We’ve always gotten along and chat about almost everything but business when we’re together. We’ve compared dating woes and lamented single life (and celebrated it, more than once).

S1 has a beautiful daughter, now 5, who she adopted from Viet Nam as an infant. She did this as a single parent. When S1’s daughter was about a year and a half old, we went to lunch. I was honest: I wanted to pick her brain about being a single parent. She was so excited to share her experiences.

At that point, I was planning to adopt. I even went to an orientation at the agency she used. At this lunch, S1 talked candidly about surviving the first year of her daughter’s life (and make no mistake—the first year as a single mom is primarily a test to see if you can keep your child alive and not lose your mind. But that’s another blog post, I think). She talked about how her life had changed, for better and for worse. She talked about her daughter. She answered any question I posed to her honestly.

It was enormously helpful.

I remember in particular one thing. I asked S1 how she knew she was ready to take that step. Because, let’s face it: When you choose that path, you’re tacitly admitting that another path isn’t possible at the moment. Sure, many single moms end up dating and marrying and even having more children. But it’s not likely to happen for at least a little while, simply due to logistics. When you choose single motherhood, you’re de facto delaying other choices.

S1 said she just knew. And she looked at me and said “When you’re ready, you’ll know it too.” We talked about how, then, I wasn’t ready.

Fast forward to New Year’s Eve 2008. Out to dinner with friends to ring in the New Year, my friend S2 mentioned that, in 2009, she was going to talk to her doctor to find out how to move forward with getting pregnant. We were with other friends, and all of us were excited for her, and we talked a little bit about it, and moved on.

At that point I’d attended a couple of adoption orientation sessions and had researched international adoption possibilities. I had also learned that I would not be receiving a sum of money I’d been expecting. That was the money I had planned to use for adoption expenses, and it would have covered the large majority of them. With that money out of the picture, I was looking at draining my savings in what was an increasingly more risky economy.

So when S2 mentioned getting pregnant, I though “Huh. I should really look at what my insurance covers. It wouldn’t hurt to ask about it, would it?”

And here I am.

For the record, S2 never made it past the starting gate on getting pregnant. That’s fine. Everyone does different things and takes different paths. But I might not have looked into it without S2 bringing it up. Or I might have waited too long-- those of you who've been reading for a while might remember that due to my company being acquired and insurance changing, I lost coverage for fertility treatments at the end of 2009. Three months after I conceived Elle. If I hadn't looked into it when I did, I might have run out of time and money.

It's a funny world.

Our lives are a series of events, of choices, of steps and missteps. Funny how things work out. Both my S friends had a part inthe life I have today, along with a dozen or a hundred other people, a dozen or a hundred other choices.

It's a funny world.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My posting vacation has not been due to anything other than normal life craziness. All continues to be well.

Elle is a full-fledged toddler now, with all that entails. I shouldn't find tantrums so entertaining, but (usually) I do. Does that make me a bad person?

I haven't seen this yet, but according to her sitter, when she does into FULL-blown tantrum mode, this is how she does it:

  • Lowers herself carefully to the floor.
  • Rolls onto her stomach.
  • Has a tantrum.
  • Looks up periodically to make sure you're paying attention.
That's my girl-- no flinging herself down randomly for Elle! You might get hurt if you do that, after all.

We went to a single mom holiday brunch today which was so, so much fun. The hostess has multiple floors, so she set up the kids on the first floor with babysitters, then the moms (and babies, and toddlers that refused the basement) on the second floor. I left Elle down there a little tentatively... and she stayed the whole time. (Which only ended up being about an hour and change, since it was midday and I needed to get her home for a nap at some point.)

Other moms coming up and down let me know she was fine. Eventually I went down, and she was very happy to see me, came over and gave me multiple hugs (this is my favorite thing ever, by the way), and then sat in my lap so I could read her a book. ("Reading" right now involves her pointing at things and telling you an involved story, none of which makes any sense. Fine by me.) The sitters who were watching the kids (and man, they should get hazard pay) said Elle was so good-- friendly with the other kids, happy, laughing, adaptable.

She's fabulous. Not that I'm biased, or anything.